Scott Pruett stole the spotlight from the CART championship battle, giving Toyota its first Champ Car pole yesterday in qualifying for the season-ending Marlboro 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Pruett, who will switch to NASCAR's Winston Cup stock car series in 2000, turned his fast lap of 235.398 mph early in the session on the windswept two-mile oval.
Pruett overshadowed the duel between series leader Dario Franchitti and rookie Juan Montoya, who go into today's race separated by only nine points in the battle for the $1 million PPG Cup title. Montoya, who said he was slowed considerably by the wind, qualified third at 234.251, with Franchitti eighth at 233.174.
Franchitti needs only to finish ahead of Montoya to win his first series championship.
Meanmwhile, Greg Moore, who finished second in last year's Marlboro 500, may miss today's race after being injured in a scooter accident yesterday morning. Moore suffered a minor fracture of the forefinger of his right hand as well as lacerations on the same hand and a bruised right hip.
FORMULA ONE: Michael Schumacher of Ferrari seized the pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, with McLaren's Mika Hakkinen in second for the race that will decide the Formula One world championship. Hakkinen has to win the season's 16th and final race today to retain the championship.
NASCAR: Jeff Green won his fourth Busch Series pole of the year, qualifying first for the inaugural Sam's Town 250 at Memphis Motorsport Park.